Here we go again--another article that compares physician incomes around the world. It's not surprising that they almost always show American doctors are paid more than any other country's, seeming to confirm the belief that the US healthcare system is too expensive because of greedy doctors. However, there is a big caveat in any of these international physician income comparisons. We will get to that. This time, the income survey comes to us courtesy of Medscape.
|Medscape International Physician Compensation Survey|
Medscape's study, in a survey of thousands of doctors around the world, once again shows American doctors are paid much more than anybody else, with an average income of $316,000. This is almost twice as much as second place Germany ($183,000) and United Kingdom ($138,000). Mexican physicians earned the least in this survey, averaging only $12,000.
American primary care doctors made about the same as their German counterparts, $242,000 to $200,000. But that is still twice as much as the UK, $122,000. Our specialists made far more than anywhere else, with male specialists earning $376,000. Meanwhile the German specialists made $194,000 and the UK specialists earned $155,000. It's plain that the Europeans place more of an emphasis on compensating their primary care doctors rather than their specialists like we do here.
Since American doctors make the most money, it goes to reason that our net worth is far higher than anyone else's. American physicians' net worths average $1,742,000. The UK doctors' net worths average only a third of Americans, $657,000. Germans are even lower, $441,000.
What are the debts that physicians have to carry? As expected, doctors around the world have mortgage payments to make and car loans to pay off. No surprise there. What is unfortunately not covered in the survey are the expenses that American doctors are faced with and makes our system uniquely expensive and burdensome.
American doctors carry a huge amount of student loan debt when they graduate from medical school. That expense is carried through the three to seven year residency and fellowship programs when there is not enough income to pay back the loan. Therefore doctors here are burdened with a giant fiscal deficit when they first begin their practices. Perhaps this important aspect of American medical economics is not asked of our international counterparts because their doctors are usually trained for free or with just nominal fees.
International physicians also don't have to worry as much about medical malpractice lawsuits. American doctors face annual five to six figure malpractice insurance expenses that our global compatriots don't even have to think about.
Yes American doctors make more money than anywhere else in the world. But we also have the highest education debts and the highest insurance expenses. You subtract these payments and our incomes aren't so disparate after all.